In this easy-to-follow Guide, I've collected together all the resources you need to plan your trip to Vancouver, BC and I have organized them into five simple steps. From catching flight deals and scoring awesome accommodation options, to making sure you have the right documents and are visiting at the ideal time, this list of top five tips has everything you need to plan the perfect trip to Canada's West Coast jewel; Vancouver.
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Step 1: Make Sure You Have the Correct Travel Documents
If you're a Canadian traveling within Canada, you can skip this step. But for anyone else —including Americans traveling from the U.S. by car —you must have the correct travel documents to enter Canada. All air travel to Canada requires a valid passport, and some countries have visa requirements for entry to Canada or a visa waiver program that means you'll need an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA).
- Required Travel Documents & Customs Information for all Travelers (includes information on bringing pets, too)
- What You Can & Can't Bring Into Canada
- Traveling by Car: Crossing the US / Canada Border
It's also helpful to know a little about Canada and Vancouver before your visit, so here's what you should know:
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Step 2: Pick Your Travel Dates
Summer is typically high travel season in Vancouver; hotel rates and flights will be more expensive at this time of year. But the extra cost does assure you of better weather (generally speaking, August is the least rainy month). Whilst summer has plenty of festivals, including the incredibly popular Honda Celebration of Light fireworks display, there's always something amazing happening in Vancouver — from fall foliage to winter snow sports or springtime whale watching.
Use these Seasonal Guides to get a taste of what climate, activities, and events to expect in Vancouver throughout the year:
- Summer in Vancouver - June, July, August
- Fall in Vancouver - September, October, November
- Winter in Vancouver - December, January, February
- Spring in Vancouver - March, April, May
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Step 3: Book Your Flight
If you are flying into Vancouver, there are several tricks for finding cheap(er) airfares. For a start, you can compare flights into Vancouver International Airport (YVR) with flights coming into nearby airports, including Bellingham, WA and Abbotsford, BC, both of which are only around an hour's drive from the city. According to Flight Network data —Canada's largest online travel agency —you should book your flight 35 days before your departure date for the best deals.
Want a nonstop flight to Vancouver?
If you do fly into Vancouver International Airport, use this Guide:
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Step 4: Choose Your Accommodations
Vancouver has a lot of options when it comes to accommodations. There are luxury hotels, romantic hotels, budget hotels, hostels, and AirBnB rentals (including apartments and houses). Whether you're traveling with family, friends or a romantic partner, use these Guides to find the perfect accommodations for your next trip:
Continue to 5 of 5 below.
- Why You Should Stay in Downtown Vancouver
- Top 10 Hotels in Downtown Vancouver - includes options for every budget, from high-end to hostels
- Top 10 Family Hotels in Vancouver
- Top 5 Romantic Hotels in Vancouver
- Best LGBTQ & Gay-Friendly Hotels in Vancouver
- Best Dog-Friendly Hotels in Vancouver
- Best Bed and Breakfasts in Vancouver
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Step 5: Plan Your Itinerary
You don't need to plan out everything you want to do before you arrive, but if you have a "must-do" list, it can make planning your trip to Vancouver easier. (For a gigantic list of things to do and see, check out the Things to Do and Vancouver Outdoors sections of this site.)
These Guides will give you a starting point for your itinerary, whether you're on a budget and want to be frugal or you want to shop 'til you drop, or dine at the finest restaurants: